This release presents two live performances of George Lloyd symphonies. What performances — and what symphonies!

George Lloyd was a rising star before the Second World War but was largely ignored afterward. Conductor Edward Downes became a champion of Lloyd’s music.

Symphony No. 6, written in 1956, is heard in its world-premiere broadcast from 1980. It’s a quintessentially Britsh work, strongly reminding me of William Walton’s “Crown Imperial.” But it’s a superficial similarity. Lloyd’s modestly-scored symphony features some wonderfully inventive melodies.

Fans of William Walton, Arthur Bliss — and even Benjamin Britten — will find much to like in Lloyd’s score.

Lloyd’s Symphony No. 7 is subtitled “Proserpine.” According to Lloyd, Proserpine’s story “seems to tell us something about the human condition of having one foot on this earth and another somewhere else – wherever that may be.”

The music is equally ambivalent. The first movement is light and cheerful, representing the maiden Proserpine dancing in the sun. The somber middle movement depicts Proserpine, now the wife of Hades, in the underworld. The turbulent finale seems to be a struggle between her worlds of light and darkness.

Lloyd used an expanded orchestra for this work and uses it to great effect. Downes least the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra in a compelling performance that makes the most of the tumultuous emotions embodied in this massive composition.

George Lloyd
Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7 “Proserpine”
BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra; Edward Downes, conductor
Live performances
Lyrita REM.1135